Remember when the History Channel actually talked about history? So do we. It was an innovative concept at the time, taking an entertainment medium like cable TV and using it to broadcast informational series, documentaries, and other educational shows. It started out as something along the lines of PBS and the BBC, focusing on knowledge more that sensationalism.
Well, if you’ve looked at the History Channel lately, you’ll see that things work a little differently these days. The History Channel (now referred to simply as “History”) is still around, but they aren’t focusing on historical accuracy as much as entertainment. And really, this is just fine.
While educational programming is much needed in today’s world, there’s nothing wrong with grabbing some popcorn and seeing what kind of bizarre oddities the modern-day History Channel will serve up. Here’s a quick rundown of a few intriguing shows that you may want to check out.
One of History’s flagship programs, “Vikings” is a series that first aired in 2013. It has been well-received by critics over the years, with fans praising the authenticity of its Nordic setting and the scope of its story.
While the creators bill the story as a historically accurate depiction of Viking chief Ragnar Lothbrok, some details were embellished for dramatic flair. But regardless of where you stand on the value of historical accuracy, this one is worth seeing for yourself.
Project Blue Book
One of the newest entries on our list, “Project Blue Book” is a 2019 series supposedly based on true events. As the story goes, the United States Air Force conducted a group of studies in the 1950s relating to UFOs and whether they posed any possible risks to national security. The series picks up at the beginning of these events and offers a great entry into the paranormal that’s (somewhat) grounded in reality.
A 2016 remake of the 1977 miniseries, “Roots” received critical acclaim for both its faithfulness to the original series and the modernizations it made to appeal to today’s viewers. This show has one heck of an all-star cast behind it and a substantial production budget rivaling many other big-brand series. Though the subject matter might be tough to handle, there’s no question that this is a powerful remake worthy of the name.
Ice Road Truckers
We’ve all heard of “Ice Road Truckers.” About as far from actual history as the History Channel can get, “Ice Road Truckers” is a 2007 reality series chronicling the adventures of seasonal truckers who navigate the icy roads and frozen rivers of northern Canada and Alaska.
Featuring new locales in every season and a surprising amount of insight into the brutal conditions faced by locals, we have to admit that this one is an entertaining way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
If you haven’t heard of History’s most popular reality series, we’d like to introduce you to “Pawn Stars.”
Indeed, “Pawn Stars” isn’t just one of the most popular reality series on History, it’s one of the most popular reality series of all time. Following the foibles of the family-owned World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, “Pawn Stars” has a rotating cast of eclectic characters that has kept it fresh over its 15-year run.
Dubbed by some as a modern version of “Antiques Roadshow,” this series features historical oddities and reality series drama in equal parts. Watch an episode and see. You’ll know right away if this show is up your alley.
Premiering in 2012, “Mountain Men” features an ensemble cast of rugged outdoorsmen hailing from Montana, Alaska, Idaho and Maine. All the cast members have an assortment of wilderness skills that help them survive in their unforgiving homes, and in some cases, live off the land entirely. But what’s really great about this series is the juxtaposition between the primary cast and their less-wilderness-savvy teams.
You won’t learn how to survive on a mountain by yourself—but you’ll have a good time watching these guys show you how it’s done.
Earlier, we said that “Ice Road Truckers” was as far from real history as the History Channel gets. Well, we lied.
“Ancient Aliens” is a 2010 series exploring the idea that extraterrestrial beings have made extensive contact with humanity over the years, weaving in strange scientific theories, mythology, and good old-fashioned logical fallacy. Yes, this show is considered a joke by academics, but if you’re looking for a guilty pleasure program that’s as far-fetched as it is supernatural, you can’t do better than “Ancient Aliens.”